While the ''basketball number'' can be considered as a ''traditional'' integrated number, it also challenges the supposed narrative links assigned to the integrated musical performance by Altman.32 If, as Altman argues, the musical number functions to reconcile two mutually exclusive terms introduced in the plot of the film, how do we address a film in which none of the ''stars'' of the plot are musical performers? Perhaps the two stars are not musical performers, but what I have been trying to suggest is that the sense of performance in the film suffuses every aspect of it. Living in the South Bronx is described as performing for the teenagers and young adults in Ahearn's film. The difference between Raymond and Rose and all others in the film, however, is somehow significantly reduced because according to the film everyone can be captured as a performer. Also, placing Raymond and Rose within the audience when they are watching other performers diminishes the viewer's distance from the ''stars'' of the film.

This ''flattening out'' of the distance between stars, supporting actors, and spectators also underscores the documentary aspect of the film. Even though Wild Style was a totally scripted documentary drama, Ahearn's camera also spends a great deal of time filming urban spaces that don't necessarily further the plot. The street and the everyday encounters of urban life are in many ways the ''stars'' of the film.33 Thus the two main integrated musical sequences entirely leave out our main characters and at moments the power and space of the street totally encroaches on the narrative territory of the film. Wild Style in fact deliberately democratizes these spaces, creating a productive generic ''tension'' that seems to permeate the criticism of this film.34 If documentaries have historically been concerned with everyday life and the exposition of various problematic or unacceptable social conditions, the musical has been largely concerned with spaces of fantasy, imagination, and various forms of utopian desire.35 However, it is also true that many musicals do acknowledge social problems in their narrative while also transcending these social constraints through song and dance.36 Wild Style brings these two spaces together in an inventive way that imagines a progressive social space of performance with the power to transcend the racial and social problems of inner-city life.

While Ahearn received a great deal of criticism for what was seen as ''whitewashing'' negative aspects of the South Bronx, namely heroin and vio lence, it could be argued that the film capitalizes on the most important theoretical aspect of the musical: to imagine what an idealized community might feel like, or at least what it might look and sound like.37 Most importantly, the film emphasizes the positive and energetic force of inner-city youth culture in this process. While it unproblematically dissolves the tension between commercial success and communal participation in the final scene for the young performers, Ahearn's film overwhelmingly underscores the power to be found in noncommercial spaces of creativity associated with early hip-hop and black and Latino youth culture in the early '80s. Wild Style validates both performance and visual representation as a means to transform the "real" geographical spaces of the city, suggesting that hip-hop, and perhaps youth culture more generally, occupies a prominent place in the progressive reordering of communal relations.

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